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Sunday, February 8, 2015 am                                        Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION 2015
What it Means to Be a Christian (2)
Blessings and Responsibilities

 

Last week we discussed what a Christian is.  We examined what the word Christian means and noted some qualities of the Christian.  We noted that a Christian is a new creation, a child of God, he belongs to God (His servant), and he lives by faith.  In our lesson today we want to continue our study by noting how the Christian is blessed and some of the responsibilities that accompany his blessings.  This will lead to a series of lessons describing what the Christian is using various descriptions (for example: He is a citizen, a soldier, a branch, part of a body, he possesses the qualities of an athlete and a farmer, etc.).  in these lessons we will  begin to examine some of the practical qualities associated with being a Christian and thereby gain an understanding of what is expected of us as Christians.   So let’s get started by noting some of his blessings and responsibilities. 

 I.                    You are blessed

                     i.      In our lesson last week when we discussed what it means to be a Christian, we noted some of our blessings.

                    ii.      Innumerable blessings.  The blessings we all experience in this life are innumerable.  All of mankind is blessed by Him. 
But as Christians, there are other blessings – greater blessings - spiritual blessings – we enjoy in Him, again too numerable to count.  Ephesians 1:3,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

                  iii.      You have peace with God
Sin produces enmity with God.  But because of Jesus (i.e. we become Christians) the enmity that existed before is gone –
Rom. 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Isaiah 53:5, a passage that describes our Lord Jesus suffering for us on the cross says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Phil. 4:7 – when we trust God, “the peace that passes understanding” will guard our hearts.  Jesus as He taught His disciples said that what He spoke was so that in Him we might have peace. (John 16:33)  Earlier He said, ““Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Ephesians 2:14-15, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,” In a context that is dealing with how the gospel is for all mankind (Jew and Gentile alike – cf. Gal. 3:27-28) Paul reminds us that the peace we enjoy with God is also extended toward one another when we act as we ought to. 

                  iv.      You have the privilege of prayer

1.          Prayer is a manner God has provided for us to personally approach Him.  It is a privilege for those who belong to Him – Christians. 

2.          In Heb. 4:14-16 we Jesus is our High Priest.  A study of the High Priest under the Levitical priesthood shows that He interceded to God on behalf of Israel.  Jesus is OUR High Priest and intercedes for His people.  Heb. 7:24-25 tells us “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

3.          1 John 2:1-2, in a passage directed toward Christians (those walking in the light – 1 John 1:7-10) we are told that we are not to sin, but if we do, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 
Again, Heb. 4:16 tells us that because of Jesus, we can come boldly to the throne of grace.

4.          1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” We can be assured that God hears our prayers. (He may not answer the way we want, but He hears.  AND He knows what is best.) What a privilege it is to be able to pray to God.  

                    v.      You have a family

1.          Last week we noted how we are sons of God (children and heirs), but that makes each of brethren – brothers and sisters in Christ.

2.          Ephesians 2:19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

3.          Continually we are described as brethren.  1 Peter 3:8 calls for us to love as bothers.

4.          The New Testament has much to say about how we are a family and we will address that in a future lesson.  For now we simply note what a blessing it is.  We can share with those of “like precious faith”.  Those who genuinely care about us and to whom we can turn for guidance and strength.  Our brethren will love us, encourage us and come to us when we need them to, both pleasant and unpleasant.  They are a source of strength in a world that is against us.

5.          And thus we need to treat each other like family!

                  vi.      You have hope

1.             Christians have something better to look forward to when this life is over. 
As Paul gave a defense to Felix he said, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:15)   This hope caused him to live with a pure conscience and without offense (vs. 16)

2.             1 Peter 1:3 speaks of God who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

3.             Colossians 1:5 describes it as a hope laid up in heaven. 

4.             Hebrews 6:19 describes it as our anchor in heaven. 

5.             When we are facing troubles, discouragement, and setbacks, this is something we must continually keep in our minds.  Whatever we endure in this life is not for nothing. God knows and will make things right.  2 Thess. 1:6-10, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
We often appeal to this verse as a source of comfort knowing that God will take care of our enemies, but notice also the reference for us as we endure.

 II.      You have responsibilities

                     i.      Along with our blessings, we have obligations.  Contrary to what many teach, we are called upon to remain faithful to Him.  As Christians we have many responsibilities.

                    ii.      We have a responsibility to be faithful children, serve God and trust Him as we have discussed last week.

                  iii.      To be different than the world

1.             Terms such as sanctified and saint indicate that we are set apart to Him.  Even the word “holy” indicates that. 

2.             1 Peter 2:9 describes us as “His own special people…”

3.             2 Cor. 6:14-17 – come out from among them and be separate.   

4.             1 Peter 4:1-4 – the world will think it strange that you do not walk in the same way as them.

5.             Philippians 2:14-16 – we shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

                  iv.      Keep yourself pure

1.             2 Cor. 7:1, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2.             1 Timothy 5:22, “Keep yourself pure”

3.             1 Peter 1:13-16, “be holy for I am holy.”

                    v.      To remain faithful

1.             2 Pet. 1:5-9 – make your call and election sure.

2.             Jesus taught us, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22, 24:13).

3.             The church at Smyrna was told to be faithful until death (Rev. 2:10) to receive the crown of life.

4.             Take steps – attend worship services, prefer your brethren, study and pray, work, etc.

                  vi.      And we need to keep growing – the very premise of our discussion this year.

1.             2 Peter 3:18 – grow in the grace and knowledge

2.             2 Corinthians 4:16 – our inward man is being renewed day by day.

3.             Romans 12:2 – by the renewing of your mind. 

4.             That is something we must be striving to do.

 

Truly we are blessed as Christians.  But being a Christian involves a life of service to Him.  IT comes with great responsibilities.  And as long as we live in this world, we must fulfill those responsibilities.  AND in the end, when we stand before Him to give account and into eternity if we have been found faithful, those responsibilities will be recognized.  Our study this year is about these responsibilities.  Are you faithful in your service to Him?